WaterplantThe vessel numbered 1 is one of four tanks at the Chestnut Street water plant that the state says must be replaced. Three others are at the Tower Hill facility.

Maintenance work at the Red Bank water utility that was to have cost $675,000 will now set back water users over $3 million, according to borough documents.

Authorization of bonding for nearly $3.1 million is on tonight’s borough council agenda, reflecting the costs of replacing all seven filtration tanks used by the municipal water utility at two locations.

At issue are four tanks installed in the 1940s at the borough’s Chestnut Street public works facility and three others atop Tower Hill that are about 130 years old.

“There’s nothing wrong with the tanks,” says engineer Christine
Ballard of T&M Associates. But the state Department of Labor
requires that they be certified as safe for inspection, and under new
regulations, they would not be, she says.

The older, rivet-sealed
tanks “date back to the 1880s, and probably couldn’t be certified,”
says borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

A big factor in the cost of the project is that the roofs will have to be removed from the two buildings that house the tanks in order to replace them, Sickels says.

Borough officials are hoping to meet a March 2 deadline under which the utility might qualify for zero-interest bonding under a state incentive program.

The issue was first broached at the council’s last meeting, on January 26, but cost estimates were not available at the time.

“The state is saying, ‘If you can get it in in time, you can get it interest-free,'” said Councilman Art Murphy.

He cautioned, though that the borough has to pay T&M for each project it is directed to work up specifications for, and “we might end up spending on specs we don’t get money for.”

The cost of the tank replacements, though “will not impact the overall tax rate because it will be funded through our self-liquidating water and sewer authority,” Mayor Pasquale Menna said.

Councilman Ed Zipprich asked Ballard if the end result would be better-quality water.

“We meet all the DEP water-quality standards,” Ballard replied. She compared the job to “changing your pool filter. It’s so we don’t have water-quality problems in the future.”

Here’s the ordinance that will be introduced tonight: Download 2009-4. 

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